THANE: The suburban railway network, regarded as the lifeline of Mumbai, cuts a sorry figure when it comes to safety standards. In the last three years, rail accidents have claimed 11,514 lives and proved near fatal for over 15,000 commuters.
Sixty years after the formation of the suburban railways, the daily commute is far from safe, claims Omprakash Sharma, president of Thane district rail passengers’ association, who sourced the information from Central Railway and Western Railway under the Right to Information Act. Between January 2009 and August 2011, CR had a fairly high accident rate with 9,661 deaths and 10,981 being injured in rail mishaps on the line. Meanwhile, 1,853 died and 4,325 were injured on the western line in the same period.
The information also revealed that accident spots on WR have remained more or less the same in the last three years, with Bandra and Andheri stations witnessing the highest number of mishaps. As many as 394 people were injured in railway accidents at Bandra station, while 384 commuters are said to have had narrow escapes near Andheri station. Sharma, who has been addressing issues concerning consumer grievances and safety standards for the last 27 years,
however, disputes the information. “Very rarely does one escape a rail accident. However, the panchnama recorded by the police upon finding a bleeding person on the tracks is that of injury. In most cases, the commuter is robbed of his wallet, chain and watch by local goons and the police declare that he is travelling without a ticket, robbing him of any compensation from the tribunal,” Sharma said.
The Thane-based BJP activist said it was deplorable that death on the tracks continued to be the norm, with an average of 10 people dying and 20 being injured every day. He also pointed out that there is a near-zero rehabilitation policy for the families of those who have died or been rendered handicapped due to the poor safety standards of the railways. “In most cases, the victim is the breadwinner and the compensation to be awarded to the family
is contested by the rail authorities. Ideally, the railways should award contracts for setting up book stalls or canteens to the next of kin of those who have died due to the negligence of the railways,” Sharma said. More info